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Aladdin Plot Thickens

29 April 2003

by Jeff Simpson

LAS VEGAS -- Planet Hollywood's $635 million bid to buy the Aladdin won't be the only offer a federal court considers for the bankrupt megaresort, a prospective bidder said Monday.

Financial Capital Investment Co.'s Richard Alter said his group of entirely U.S.-based investors plans a bid for the Aladdin that would top the Planet Hollywood group's offer to spend $90 million to refurbish the property.

Financial Capital Investment Co., is a Los Angeles-based investment group that earlier floated an offer for the $1.05 billion resort that was passed up by creditors in favor of the Planet Hollywood bid, informed sources said.

"We want to appeal to middle-American gamblers who like to play slots," Alter said of his group's plans to open an Asian-themed casino named ASIA.

"There's demand for an Asian theme for U.S. citizens without the opportunity to go to Asia," he said.

Alter believes his bid and Planet Hollywood's will be the only two offers U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Clive Jones will consider during the Aladdin's planned auction.

Planet Hollywood's bid includes $90 million in cash contributed by Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Bay Harbour Management and Planet Hollywood Chairman Robert Earl. The group will use the money to rename, retheme and fix the megaresort.

The Planet Hollywood bid also includes $510 million in refinanced Aladdin secured debt and $35 million from the Aladdin's power supplier, Northwind Aladdin.

Asked how much more his group would offer than the Planet Hollywood bid, Alter wouldn't say, calling it a competitive disadvantage to reveal details too early.

Money would be spent to raze the Aladdin's Theater for the Performing Arts and replace it with an improved entrance.

The decision by Aladdin developers to keep the theater in the center of the megaresort has been called the key to the property's flawed design.

"You have to take a big gulp to tear the theater down, but we're going to do it," Alter said. "Then you can have a glorious entrance."

Financial Capital Investment has already lined up a Nevada-licensed casino operator to run the property if its bid is successful, he said, declining to name the operator.

Earl said Monday his group is confident their bid will win the bankrupt property.

"I expect that during the next six weeks' process there will be other bids," Earl said. "Some will be serious and some will be foolhardy. We think the bank group, all 35 of them, is very happy with our bid."

The $510 million in refinanced secured Aladdin debt and the $35 million Northwind contribution could be included as a component in any bid.

Judge Jones is scheduled May 7 to decide whether to approve the Aladdin's proposed sales plan, including selection of the Planet Hollywood offer as the "stalking horse," or preferred bid.

Bankruptcy courts routinely award stalking horse bids with several advantages to compensate for the tactical disadvantage of revealing an offer early.

Aladdin bosses are asking the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to require qualified bids for the property to beat the Planet Hollywood offer by at least $17.5 million.

If the court receives a qualified higher offer, Jones would then conduct an auction, 45 days after setting the sales procedure.

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